The Clean-Up Crew


Making a clean sweep of the cafe. – photograph by Ben Rush

4:30 a.m. That’s the time that Clyde Livingston, one of the seven custodians that work at Canton High School, gets up on a normal school day morning. 6:00 a.m. That’s the time his work day, which lasts the entire school day, starts. He does this five days a week, totaling forty hours of work per week.
Even after the final bell rings at 2:20 p.m., not all of the custodians are done for the day. When the daytime custodians’ shift ends, the night shift custodians go to work. At 2:00 p.m., Artie Conant begins his shift, which goes till 10:00 p.m.. Sometimes, Artie says, the custodians even work weekends, and during the winter, custodians do a lot of overtime work.
So, what DO the custodians do? As Clyde puts it, their job is to keep the school “clean and open” throughout the day. Any additional tasks, Artie added, usually depend on the school year and the season.
Of course, the job isn’t easy. Keeping the school “clean and open” means cleaning the rooms, keeping the floors litter-free, and making sure the bathrooms are in clean condition. In a building that houses both a middle school and a high school for a total of eight hundred kids during the school day, spreading out the workload between a team of seven people is a task that seems almost herculean in scale.
With that many students, there are bound to be incidents that stay seared onto the minds of the custodians. Artie and Clyde each had a memorable mess they had to clean up. These range from Artie’s recollection of cleaning blood off of the cafeteria floor from a student’s bleeding head wound, to Clyde remembering the “issues in the bathroom,”  a statement that needed no further explanation.
One of the more well-known incidents the custodians had to clean up was last year, when the urinals in the male bathrooms were seemingly clogged. When the custodians dismantled the urinals to examine the situation, they found the pipes lined with wads of chewing gum discarded over the years. The clog was so bad, Assistant Principal Eric Verner had to hold a separate assembly for all male students attending Canton High School to warn them not to discard gum in the urinals.
However, the job isn’t all that bad, both custodians admit. The best part of the job, they both agree are “the students” they see every day.
Custodians are widely appreciated throughout the school. Student Robert Karson commented that the custodians “are really hard working and are some of the nicest people in the school,” pointing out that they “are just really down to earth and fun people to hang around with.
Teacher Carla Kurt, meanwhile, appreciates “their friendliness and willingness to be helpful to the teachers and students.”